Whether the Chicago sports media were thinking wishfully or the Chicago Tribute has a legitimate source saying the Miami Heat are interested in trading super star guard Dwyane Wade to the Bulls even for the #1 overall pick doesn't really matter. The trade won't happen, nor should it. You don't trade the face of your franchise in professional basketball unless you're getting one back right away.
The NBA is built around superstars and Wade star was shining as bright if not brighter than anyone not named Lebron James prior to the disastrous 2007-08 season. The man called "Flash" cannot be guarded by anyone in the NBA and despite injury issues has played tough and never thrown his teammates under the bus despite playing with guys who wouldn't have started for any of the top 10 teams in COLLEGE basketball.
I guess the point is: Dwyane Wade makes the Miami Heat a viable franchise and without him, the Heat will be right back in the top 5 of the lottery next season. He is a top 5 player in the league and until he was hurt he was the only player in the conversation with Kobe and Lebron.
Undoubtedly, if the Heat were in playoff contention, Wade would play through the pain and try and help his team win, but I want to point something out: In that two for one the saturday night before announcing he was done for the year, Wade played 39 minutes and all he did was score 24 points on 11-20 shooting and dish out 8 dimes. Oh, right, that is on a knee that wi keep him out the remainder of the season.
I know, I know, the Heat are done so there is no reason to risk further injury by playing the South Beach super-star. But, Wade has been dogged and criticized all season long for being on a team with Shaq (now Shawn Marion) and Pat Riley and only winning 11 games. Reggie Miller even said during a Lakers-Heat game that if Kobe Bryant and Flash switched places, the Heat would be in the playoffs. Days later in one of those lame ABC mini-segments, Marc Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy didn't place Wade in the top 5 shooting guards in the NBA (to be fair, Van Gundy had him at 5 1/2).
Really?? Without getting into too much data analysis we can briefly compare Lebron and Wade's career averages as of March 8 (The last game Wade played).
Wade: 23.9 PPG, 6.5 AST, 4.8 RB, 1.7 STL on 48.1% shooting
James: 27.3 PPG, 6.6 AST, 6.9 RB, 1.8 STL on 46.7% shooting
To put that into perspective Lebron James has taken 7904 shots in his career while Flash just 5428 according to basketball-reference.com. Assuming Wade took as many shots as Lebron and still made 48.1%, that is an extra 1191 buckets, or another 2382 points. Over Wade's 315 games played that is an extra 7.56 points per game. Not to mention, it would have been in nearly 3500 less minutes.
Now that I have delved dangerously into John Hollinger territory, we ultimately measure superstars by the jewelry they wear. Not the stuff they show us on cribs, but the championship rings. Michael Jeffrey Jordan isn't the face of basketball because he stuck his tongue out, or dunked on anyone and everyone. He won 6 rings, made his teammates better, and won games.
He took the Bulls from the valley to the mountain top, something we're still waiting for the heir to the thrown, Prince James (thank you Skip Bayless) to do. During the 2001 and 2002 seasons the Miami Heat had a combined 61 victories and only 25 in 2002.
Enter Dwyane Wade.
In 2003, the Heat went 42-40 (a +17 improvement) and went to the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. In comparison the Cleveland Cavaliers were 17-65 the season before they drafted Lebron James. In 2003, with Lebron, they finished 35-47, a +18 improvement for the Cavs. It should also be noted that Lebron had 3 other 15.0+ per game scores on that Cavs team, while Wade only had two.
By 2004, the Heat had Shaq and a shot at the Eastern Conference Championship and another +17 game improvement to 59-23, Miami's first 50 win season since 2000(The Cavs won 42 games, a +7 improvement). Shaq got a ton of credit for putting the Heat on top, but Wade was absolutely unstoppable in the playoffs. The Heat swept both the Nets and Wizards and the former Marquette Star averaged nearly 26, 9, and 6 boards on 50% shooting against the Nets. Then, to outdo himself, he went for 31,8, and 7 rebounds a game in the series against Washington.
For an encore, in the series against the Pistons, Wade scored 42 in Game 2 and 36 in Game 3 before injuring his rib in Game 5. That injury kept him out in the 6th, and limited him in the 7th. If not for Wade's sinusitis, the flu, and the aforementioned rib muscle, the Heat probably would have held onto their 3-2 series lead against the Pistons, and had a great shot to beat the Spurs in the 2005 Finals.
Have we forgotten what happened 24 months ago when Dwyane Wade was putting on one of the greatest individual show in recent Finals memory? How about 16 free throws a game, shattering the old NBA Finals attempts record? Then there is 34.7 points per game in the Finals, the third highest average all-time.
I understand, the Mavs choked, but after the 2006 Finals, Wade was being called the closest thing to MJ since MJ. Has he really fallen so far? Has Lebron really widened the gap between the two? Is there really even a gap? Ok those Finals are ancient history by sport standards. The Heat were 11-50 when Wade shut it down. The arena was empty on South Beach, people would rather party than watch the Heat get blown out again, or lose another close game.
Wade has carried this team on his shoulders since Day 1. I don't want to hear that Lebron has too and look, he has higher scoring numbers. I already showed that if Wade was a Lebron-style ball-hog, he'd have Oscar Robertson-type numbers. And it wasn't until last year's playoffs and this season that Lebron started showing up in the fourth quarter.
It wasn't until this season Lebron started making free throws. Since Wade's second year he has been one of the best closers in the NBA. If the Heat were in games late, especially if they were ahead, Wade would take over. Wade's body has taken a beating and he still has carried his team, still played hard, and hasn't taken garbage shots.
He could have been be padding his stats, hoping to get another huge contract. Instead, Wade was getting 6.9 assists per game, 12th in the NBA and behind only Allen Iverson in shooting guards. Only 3 players in the NBA this season were in the top 10 in scoring and the top 15 in assists: Wade, AI, Lebron.
I understand Wade had the lowest winning percentage of any All-Star ever. Kobe couldn't take his team all the way without help, that is how his team wound up in the lottery to grab Andrew Bynum. Only since the Lakers picked up Gasol and Bynum started playing like an All-Star have the Lakers been in the championship discussion.
Wade's team is terrible. Shawn Marion is the only player who could start on just about every other team in the league. Udonis Haslem could start on maybe half. Beyond that, the team has lost Jason Kapono, Antoine Walker, Gary Payton, Alonzo Mourning, James Posey not to mention some guy who goes by "Shaq" from its championship team and replaced them with a bunch of backups.
Wade's arc was still rising when Shane Battier dislocated his shoulder last season. We still see the flashes of his brilliance when he splits 3 defenders and scores on a reverse lay-up.
Wade has battled through the shoulder injury and the soreness from off-season knee-surgery all season and still managed to put up all-star numbers. The Heat are rebuilding, but they will do it around one of the best young players in the game.
His team's record belies his unique gifts. Fall down 7, stand up 8, that was the commercial. Put Derrick Rose, Michael Beasley, or OJ Mayo next to a healthy and rested Wade and Marion next season and I think you'll see: The 2007-08 Miami heat are terrible, but you can't blame Wade.
Just like management said, it is awfully tough to rebuild around Dwyane Wade if he's playing in Chicago. That is why it won't happen.
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